historical perspectives

DFL PLAN July 2008 (Draft)

Flexible learning design for a digital audio course


These days interactive course materials and learning resources can be readily produced using open source digital tools and shared across social networks. Open Educational Resources are free of copyright restriction and freely available on the world wide web. While the ‘volunteer approach’ to OER development is unlikely to gain much traction in the short to medium term, there is promise in the long term. Consider that in 2002, OER was a term used to denote higher educational resources in third world countries, today, 2008, digital media with attribution only CCby are available online to use and re-use, to mix and remix (mashup) and to reference and redistribute under fair-use guidelines.

Learning by active participation has traditionally been considered a key component in vocational training. The prevalence of embedding digital literacy in academic and ‘virtual’ technical courses now extends those opportunities for “learning by doing”. Collaborative media practices are making waves in mainstream educational environments and institutions. Particularly when students are involved in learning paradigms where ideas are generated in socially interactive forums, sharing resources and collaboration builds into OER multimedia projects.

The background:

Otago Polytechnic is a tertiary institute for technical, academic and vocational training accredited with nationally recognised certificates diplomas and degrees. From the outset Otago Polytechnic staff delivered blended programmes to both distance students and onsite students. Typically courses comprise distributed packages of e-learning and face to face classes, and online by way of a (closed platform) learning management systems, Blackboard and Moodle.

For over 2 years, a number of full time lecturing staff and 5 part-time programme designers across different departments have been exploring the use of wikis and personalised blogs to develop and manage a number of online courses and teaching resources to achieve greater flexibility in curriculum and distributed methods of delivery.

Intellectual Property Policy changes at Otago Polytechnic during 2007 mean staff can now assign copyright to their course resources (attribution only CCBy as is recommended). This innovation was designed so that more educators will design more flexibility into existing programmes. The strategic direction is toward embedding digital information literacy across into courses and delivering these across social networks. As more programmes adapt and convert existing course materials into digital multimedia these can be accessed as Open Education Resources.

Many people experience barriers to learning and not just in formal educational environments. Learning aurally auditory-musical-rhythmic learning styles can be overlooked as an enabling and rewarding experience for learners with diverse socioeconomic, cultural backgrounds, literacy numeracy needs intellectual, and physical disability.

The following plan is an outline for a flexible course design using open and distributed information and communication tools to teach the construction of course materials using digital audio.

General Aims and objectives:

1. open course to teach the construction of course materials using digital audio.

2. A blended delivery facilitating learner generated curriculum and content.

3. The informal/formal learners will be directed and guided through activities generated in a handbook (tutorial resources and activities accessed online from wikieducator and youtube).

Flexible Learning Objectives

Flexiblity related to time:
– starting and finishing course. Offering this course online would mean variable start and finish dates, pace, submitting assignments and feedback.

Flexiblity related to content:
– a participatory model of student generated content on sourcing, evaluating, use and reuse of material from the internet.

– extensive feedback system will result in an ongoing process of content creation and modification. refer to course outline for feedback system. The use of a wiki will accomodate this flexibility.

Flexibility of access:
– open access with informal and formal enrollement.
– Conditions of participation require basic level computing skills (archive/ file management) with some network navigation skills. Skills analysis of technological skill and fluency, digital literacy, internet literacy, vocabulary, self efficacy, confidence levels etc. Three categories are useful to analyse a learner profile to denote skill complexity and relative levels of mastery of those skills breakdown into three levels beginner, intermediate or advanced levels access, interpret, create, these are adapted from a wikieducator project in which a group of researchers at Otago Polytechnic are creating educational resources in the Commonwealth of Learning.

Flexiblity related to delivery:
Network Learning using social software open source platform makes it possible for:

– the programme portfolio to be constituted from open education resources and tutorials.
– flexible in meeting specific access and equity issues meet expectations for satisfactory means of delivery.
– Blended delivery online and in face to face group based activities on collaborative research.
– Self-instructional self-paced design of assigned resources online wikieducator and youtube tutorials delivery.
– Particpants can be self-paced and can work with peers where course materials and assessment schedules will be blended and non synchronous and can facilitate collaboration.

Flexiblity related to instructional design

Flexible Learning Methodologies:

– Participatory Design in tandem with peer collaboration in projects and group based activities promote the participatory model of flexible learning and flexible course delivery (Collis & Moonin, 2001)

– Universal Instructional Design is inclusive of cultural diversity and disability. Diversity learner profiles: skills, academic experience, learning styles, resources etc – previous experience producing digital audio editing with software (audacity, goldwave, cubase, pro-tools)

– Self-instructional Design Guidelines: applied in the development of self-instructional curriculum content; in particular constructing audio along with other media and delivering these as the course materials.

Access and equity:

“The first understanding of injustice is material, here attention to injustice focuses on unequal distribution of things like income, property ownership, access to paid work, to education and health care, leisure time and so on. The second understanding of injustice is cultural and symbolic…” (Bruch, 2003, p.94)

– a course for instructors encourages peer to peer support in core and complementary technology and provides resources to support technical training.

– student feedback and extensive course evaluation used to detemine whether expectation built into timelines and course assessment schedules are appropriate.

Cultural diversity:

Our contributions are: our commitment to education equity, realised through our ’staircasing’ philosophy, flexible delivery and commitment to provide an inclusive learning environment.

– Identify learner strengths both as an individual and in a collaborative group dynamic social network software and a static curriculum.
– Identify and gather evidence about areas to offer advice about ways to improve student and course outcomes and justification of flexible learning issues


Factors precipitating organisational changes such as declining student enrollment numbers coupled with a government reallocation of funding from “bums on seats” to student retention and graduation, all point to the need for change greater use of the internet and open access internet connectivity, more flexibility in programme frameworks, course delivery, content, and assessment and certification schedules.

Sustainabilty : Triple bottom line

Social systems: Prospective course participants include undergraduates, post graduates, staff and mature students returning to study, or entering formal studying for the first time and general public.

– Course will have synchronous events for some students to be supported when they are learning and encountering new materials and extending their use to others. Social networking software is used for dynamic asynchronous communications, and feedback and evaluation.
– course materials can be developed to be inclusive: use both core and complementary technologies that generate audiovisual resources for all economic disadvantage, disabilities, language barriers and learning disabilities.
– wikiversity has resources for other language users also see wikimedia of audiovisual resources

Ecological systems:
Reuse and fair use of open educational resources:

– model a sustainable use of technology through a design for learning that utilises connectivity and creative commons philosophy.
– observe fair use and re-use by referencing copyright guidelines by maintaining and improving on the quality when using and re-using resources with creative commons attribution.
– Indicate the type of services which already exist that compliment and/or compete with your plan.
– plan the strategic implementation of digital network literacy requires ongoing support and training.
– recognise that technological fluency and self-efficacy that has an open ended range network and generates a variety of flexible aspects to the overall design.

Economic Systems:
This design aims to address some digital literacy and technical aspects of the course present ojectives access and equity, disability and cultural differences student retention, career pathways, livelihoods .
– Develop facilities and systems which correspond with industry standards
– can be co-ordinated into module based learning
– are integrated into other courses within and beyond educational institutions
– correspond to industry based skills and qualifications which will be regenerative of livelihoods.

Existing Flexible Learning Services and relevant training

Opportunities at Otago Polytechnic: types of flexible/formal sound/design audio production modules. Fine Arts School offers an applied course in Digital Literacy application to contemporary design communication in the first year of a 3 year Bachelors of Fine Arts. Design School also offers one module in sound Design in the 2nd semester a module in a 2 year full time Interactive Multimedia Design Course. Composing Open Educational resources on wikiversity, Community Media on wikieducator

Alignment with the Polytechnic’s strategic direction:

We will continue to develop our courses for flexible delivery to facilitate learning in regional centres, in workplaces and in people’s homes (Otago Polytechnic Charter 2007 p.9).

In 2007 Otago Polytechnic senior management revised their Intellectual Property Policy. In effect, the existing All Rights Reserved default CCL was replaced by a creative commons -Some Rights Reserved – Attribution CC BY. Effectively giving staff Intellectual property ownership rights with an option to elect for some restriction.
It is to be expected that replacing an All Rights Reserved CCL default copyright with the recommended CC BY copyright will foster collaboration avoid the legalistic complications when practitioners, academics and students use re-use of digital resources that have attribution restrictions.

– To provide relevant, flexible and accessible learning opportunities which build capability, are stimulating and challenging and foster life long learning (Otago Polytechnic Charter (p.4).

Reuse and fair use of open educational resources: As part of a strategic implementation plan documenting and evaluating flexibility for on-line networks Whether this going to be enough to ensure longterm sustainablity I wonder. What will the bench marks to measure sustainable goals against.

Our contributions are: our responsiveness to our communities and to stakeholder needs, evidenced through our comprehensive programme portfolio and our flexibility in meeting expectation for alternative means of delivery (Otago Polytechnic Charter p.10).

Otago Polytechnic strategic choice is progressive both in the vision, the timing and negotiating of a creative commons Intellectual Property Policy.
There is a good deal of communication required to bring staff on board, infrastructural change required to to support recognise and renummerate staff for flexible learning innovation. Implementation implies realigning academic issues of pedagogy and effective teaching into a digital realm. The plan I have outlined attempts to outline issues of sustainablity re-using flexible online teaching and learning practices.


Australian Academic and Research Libraries 6(4), 153-168 Anderson (2003) p.5
Benkler, Y. Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Resources. Wikieducator project at Otago Polytechnic

Bruch, P.L. (2003) in Interpreting and Implementing Instructional Design in Basic Writing Process. Jeanne L. Higbee. Editor. (p. 93-103)

Bruch, P.L. (2003) Training -Apprenticeship Models of Skills Instruction, in Interpreting and Implementing Instructional Design in Basic Writing Process. Jeanne L. Higbee. Editor. (p. 93-103).

Butt, Danny (2002). Reshaping Undergraduate Study in New Media. ANZCA Conference proceedings, Gold Coast. Australia.

Collis, Betty and; Moonen, Jef. (2001). Flexible learning: it’s not just about distance. In Flexible learning in a digital world. Open & Distance Learning Series. London: Kogan Page Ltd.

Composing free and open educational resources created by the Wikiversity

Introduction to Open Education course by David Wiley

Otago Polytechnic Charter (2006-2010)

Procter L. (2006) Supporting Legitimate Peripheral Participation: challenges for teaching and Learning in a first year sociology course. International Review of Modern Sociology: 32 (1)

Procter L., Wartho, R. and Anderson, M (2005) Embedding Information Literacy in the Sociology Programme at the University of Otago. Australian Academic and Research Libraries Vol 36, No. 4. (153-168).

Leigh Blackall (2007) Open Educational Resources and Practices in Scope Contemporary Research Topics; Flexible learning No.1 Nov. University of Otago Print.

Lockwood, Fred. (1998). The Design and Production of Self-Instructional Materials. The Open and Flexible Learning Series. London: Kogan Page.

The Power of Flexible Learning Design a GCTLT DFLP Course at Otago Polytechnic Research (2006-2008) project into effective strategies embedding digital networked literacy and self-efficacy for e-learning across networked learning communities.

Universal Instructional Design in a computer-based Higher Education Learning Community. edited J. Higbee.


This course plan has been developed using open source software and open educational resources.


in hindsight

An innovative proposition on collaborative teaching design with so much potential. Whats happened to flexible learning design re-volution and these authors, their peers and those implementations of flexible learning design … ? in the intervening years

What we now know that they couldn’t know back then -The failure of e-learning to deliver equal access and learner centered designs. – who wants what ? …. (Collis and Moonen, 2001, p 10)

Why should we now use a learner centred design is a central question in article on application in Journal of knowledge and E-learning and Knowledge Society . These other authors , (Maria Pertonilla Penna et al 2007) are arguing the design of an e-learning interface, while it is one solution to spatial and temporal constraints, falls short of enabling more students to learn more effectively than in traditional environments. Learner centred design requires adapting the design to suit the individual learner.

This can be exhaustive, as you can imagine, and include both the environment around the work station and the day to day pressures personal preferences, learner styles and self and peer motivation to engage in the interface of online learning. Learner profile can include educational background; academic/ conceptual/cognitive/ profile, our experience base, attitudes both toward application of both the technology and attitudes to content, our expectations, our thinking and cultural socioeconomic stereotypes. That is even before determining literacy, numeracy needs, digital information literacy, technical skills and and last but not least our cultural influences. Such things, interrogated as learner centred design, provides evidence that the design promotes accurate assessment and the student outcomes are fair! Social justice issues are explicit throughout this list: people of all ages and ethnicities with literacy, numeracy needs are failing to step up to the digital information literacy plate to access educational opportunities.

Taking learner profiles to heart is a big ask. Logisitically speaking how realistic is the task to adapt learner centred profiles to course content and blended delivery … seems this could account for just how slow tertiary teachers seem to be to implement learner centred designs.

Today application of network learning across the www needs revisit the basic literacy and numeracy issues via educational planning, their software, hardware interface, web digital publication, syndicated reading services, social networks, multimdedia course design, open course delivery platforms net and the amassing of (open and electronic) access to survey evidence of the application online-learning.

For teaching professionals it could be beneficial to collaborate with the programme designers and to trial information technology design critically evaluating integration of literacy and numeracy needs. Professionally it could be disingenuous not to measure outcomes for students with literacy and numeracy needs; where we are not interrogating these mechanisms of social engineering across the internet we’re maintaining that the right to education is only for some.

What do we now know that they couldn’t know back then –so that’s it… the benefits of hindsight is really where learning begins (and ends). Every day can begin with evaluation, reflection and collaboration.

the -past

the – present

I don’t know much detail about the history of Otago Polytechnic organisational support before 2007. This is what I understand has happened with flexible learning recently. Therre has been a web baased e-learning intiative at Otago Polytechnic from 2007. Leigh Blackall when he advertised and hosted one week per month of informal lunchtime seminars on for flexible delivery elearning – and could see this as a chance to shape history – document professional practice across Web2.0 through staff weblogs. Every month one week of lunchtimes was dedicated to , e-groups, Blogs, Wikis, Web Feeds, audio podcasting, Open source software, digital copyright/referencing, tagging, recording and editing digital video, Vlogging, Networked Learning and general discussion, … with only a core group of staff taking the opportunity to learn blogging, and Network Learning, open source resources including learning and technical support. Some of these staff were distance teaching some were staff program developers from Travel and tourism massage therapy, and others were staff enroled in Design for Flexible Learning at Otago Polytechnic. All were at this the time key players supporting each other with resources via network learning groups and blog posts.

the – future ?

tomorrow will be shaped by the hands of today – the progress of collaboration between groups of teachers and students, staff training in open source course development, free education initiatives and training. There is always cautionary tale to be told. Any organisation has to set in place the right expectations of their staff development and training, networking, designing and teaching flexible innovations to learning.- staff are supposed to use what they’re being taught. No matter how enthusiastic encouraging you might be these performance objectives have to the same as staff trainers objectives. The reality in an organisation the size of OP practitioners responses will vary wildly- ranging from individuals defensive and over protective of their patch, to over committed, teachers under acknowledged by their peers and their organisation in general, to collaborative networks between teachers and students inside and across different organisations. The bottom line is that when staff performance is rewarded that in the longer term has more positive outcomes and brings benefits to new generation teachers- and learners

and what is the logical conclusion – mm I wonder

Was it ever simple. … Before flexible design open access to education can bridge the digital divide, it at least have to begin to be effective and if staff are not rewarded for structually implementing their digital/technical skills, then it’s unlikely that they will actually continue to build on the skills and continue to explore any applications of these in their practice. Digital literacy training is part of the package of implementation and is ongoing and is already transforming our conventional student and staff teaching and learning roles.